Mazzy Bartelheim receives a greeting from Thunder hockey coach J.R. Litkey after she dropped the ceremonial first puck Jan. 13 (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Co-op hockey program shows love for local girl

By Jason Arndt
Editor

Overwhelmed.

Christy McFarlane, of Salem Lakes, used that word to illustrate the support she has received from the Kenosha Thunder Booster Organization for her daughter, Mazzy Bartelheim, who has overcome health obstacles since she was born 11 years ago.

Bartelheim, a Wheatland Center School fifth-grade student, was the beneficiary of the Thunder’s chief fundraiser this year, which was held Jan. 13 at the Lakeview IcePlex in Pleasant Prairie.

The fundraiser, held in conjunction with the co-op hockey team’s game against De Pere, brought in supporters from five county high schools, including Westosha Central and Wilmot Union.

Within the last five years, the two western Kenosha County schools joined the co-op program, which consists of three high schools in the Kenosha Unified School District – Bradford, Tremper and Indian Trail.

McFarlane, who describes her daughter as caring and loving, has been overwhelming with support since she learned of the fundraiser around Thanksgiving when Wheatland school counselor Denise Ruemmele reached out to her about the opportunity.

“I really didn’t know what it was about, since it came out around Thanksgiving, and believed it involved Christmas,” she said. “Then it turned out to be this, and it is a little overwhelming. It is amazing and humbling.”

Annually, the co-op hockey program’s Booster Organization selects an area student in need of support, according to member Amanda Hahn.

Hahn, McFarlane said, has been helpful to the Bartelheim family since Mazzy was chosen as the beneficiary.

“It has been really amazing. Amanda has been talking to me a lot, and she picked up Mazzy from school on (Jan. 11) and brought her to a Thunder practice to show her what it is like,” McFarlane said.

Thunder coach J.R. Litkey, who spent time with Mazzy during practice last week, said Mazzy has a shining smile and upbeat personality in spite of her circumstances.

“Mazzy is a great little girl and she is fun and very talkative and very upbeat,” he said. “It is good considering where she is at.”

Bartelheim’s obstacles started at three days old, when she suffered a seizure, and was taken to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin where doctors discovered she had a brain injury caused by a stroke.

While undergoing treatment, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Intonentia Pigmenti, which affects her skin, teeth and central nervous system.

The obstacles created by the seizures and stroke left her with physical and emotional delays.

Last year, she went through brain surgery, with hopes of doctors finding the source of her seizures, but the procedure was unsuccessful due to the complexity of the condition.

Later, doctors performed surgery on her leg, which has shown some improvement.

“She does get a little down when she knows she has an appointment coming up, especially with her leg. She knows she can’t walk as well as anyone else, but she always bounces back from everything,” McFarlane said.

Although she has limitations, the Wheatland School student continues to think about others, according to McFarlane.

“She is very sweet and very thoughtful for other people,” she said. “She is always thinking about everybody else.”

The Thunder, which raised funds online, also held raffle giveaways and a silent auction on Saturday for a variety of items.

The fans, both east and west of Interstate 94, offered words of encouragement to McFarlane’s family.

“People don’t even know us, and they came together for her,” she said.

Figures have not been released, but the online fundraising website is still raising funds to offset medical expenses.

McFarlane has three other children – sons Joseph, 15, Austin, 13, and Jackson, 7.

Mazzy is also the daughter of Joe Bartelheim.

 
 

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